Festus Keyamo, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development
Following a string of near air mishaps in the country, the Aviation and Aerospace Minister, Mr Festus Keyamo, has ordered the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) to submit reports on them within 10 days to enable stakeholders learn and avoid a repeat of the operational gaffes.
He also tweaked the aircraft leasing arrangement whereby wet leases (where aircraft, pilots and cabin crew are all hired foreigners), saying such an arrangement must include Nigerian cabin crew or first officer going forward.
He gave the marching order on Monday in Abuja at a technical meeting with key aviation heads.
While frowning at the string of air incidents in the country, he described them as pure regulatory laxity and not acts of God.
He also read the riot act to airlines over poor compensation of passengers over flight delays, missing baggage and other matters.
The meeting, convened by Keyamo, was to brainstorm and marshal out ways to boost aviation safety as the rising number of incidents was a pointer that a major disaster may be underway.
He said: “The NSIB is investigating these incidents and I have directed them that within 10 days from today, they must submit their reports regarding these incidents that happened and what actually transpired.
“However, we have some preliminary steps and precautionary steps that we are taking as a ministry and the regulator because of the incident that happened yesterday, where a plane bound for Abuja ended up in Asaba.
“We have listened to the transcripts from the tower to the pilots. The Transcript was produced by NAMA because it is in charge of recordings, navigational issues and radio communication.
“It was clear that when the pilot was taking off from Lagos, he was headed to Asaba not Abuja, whereas the flight ought to be a flight headed for Abuja. There was no weather problem in Abuja yesterday.
“It was a question of a wet lease plane, where the pilots and the crew were all foreigners not Nigerians. So, they were not familiar with the Nigerian terrain”.
Keyamo added that the development has opened the eyes of the regulators to new steps that should be taken to prevent a recurrence.
The minister kicked against having wet lease arrangements where pilots and crew are foreigners.
“You must have Nigerian pilots seated at least on the jump seats. I’ve also directed the NCAA that within the next 72 hours, they should summon all pilots and crew who are operating leases in Nigeria for further briefings.
“As a government, we are very sensitive to public opinion. We will not close our eyes and close our ears too to concerns raised by Nigerians.
“My view has always been that if an incident happened anywhere in our airports that is not the act of God then there is a failure of regulation somewhere.
“If there is a burst tyre of an aircraft, you can’t give excuses. There’s someone who was given the responsibility to check the tyres before the plane takes off.
So, you can’t say it’s an act of God. A burst tyre is not an act of God, it is an act of man.
“If the runway is not fit enough to land or maybe it was wet and it skids off the runway. There’s a failure of regulation. There was a dispatcher who dispatched that plane. So, if these things happen and we don’t see sanctions, we don’t call out the people who are involved then I have failed as a minister and that is why they are all here today.
“We need to review these incidents. We need to get a technical report of what happened. Pending those reports, we must take precautionary steps to ensure the safety of the lives of Nigerians”, he added.
Source: Fact Echoes